August 4, 1997 -- Guangzhou

On to the Adoption Agency

After a 7 hour delay in HongKong for a 20 minute flight to Guangzhou, the business of the trip began in earnest. First thing in the morning we all went down to the government office where the adoption office was. We went in two buses, Mei baby parents and friends in the first bus, Guo babies in the second bus. The Mei babies were all going to come from an orphanage, and the Guo babies from Zhanjiang foster homes. As Mei babies, we were to go into the office first. However the office was occupied when we arrived, so we started on the paperwork on the bus.

Norman had the babies' papers, that included a fairly recent picture. He asked us if we wanted to see the pictures, implying perhaps we shouldn't. But almost all the Mei baby parents wanted to see theirs. Tim and Christine certainly did, though Christine was nervous. There was a round of applause as each picture was shown around the bus. We heard that in the Guo bus most parents didn't want to see, but after the first person did see, and had a round of applause, everyone changed their mind.

The papers were very Chinese looking, lots of red stamps. Lorna Mei's picture (she is still officially Mei Yun at this point) showed her looking a little goofy. Below the picture was a print of her foot in red. Christine had to sign in a few places, and she had to fill in a paragraph about why she was in China. Norman told us to write that we loved Chinese children and would never abandon ours and other stuff like that. The was a lot of photographing of papers and parents holding papers on the bus.

Eventually we filed into the office, a basic room on the second floor of a somewhat dilapidated government building. The main official was a very nice woman who knew Norman well. Each parent had to go up to her desk to be asked questions.

Christine was asked: "How old are you? How much money do you make? Why did you come to China? She answered "I love Chinese children and I want to have a child".

"You want to be a mother?" "Yes, I've wanted to for a long time" . That brought a big smile from the official. Then there was stamping of papers, and Christine was presented with the adoption permit and a folder to put it in. Then there was applause. Next we paid money, $3,000 for the orphanage, more than $4,000 for the travel stuff, and several other smaller payments, all in cash. It was a relief to get rid of all that cash!

We trooped back out, and stood around in the heat. Carol stood the Mei group a round of drinks - waters, cokes and beers - from a little store. After a while a few of us went off for a walk while the Guo group were being processed. Christine and Tim strolled to a little park nearby, where people were sitting or walking in the noonday heat. A small group was performing Chinese opera. We watched for a while, and donated a few Yuan. This produced applause, stools to sit on near the group, and hot tea. Everyone was very friendly.

That day we had dim sum lunch in an extremely posh restaurant, the Dynasty. There were many waitresses in fancy uniforms, and exactly 10 of each dim sum for our table of 10. Tim managed to stay out of trouble pretty much with the food, except for a small incident with the greens.

Its clear some of the group are happier with Chinese food than others. After lunch we toured a new part of Guangzhou. Our guide was Martin, a very nice guy who waxed lyrical on several subjects including the cost of apartments in the new part of town, and how much people in China - including himself - appreciated what we were doing, so it was OK to walk around and show off our kids once we got them.

That afternoon we had a rather hot and humid walk in a park by the hotel, and saw the famous 5 rams statue. The evening was a big party dinner at the Jade Palace next door, with a dancing girls floor show that can best be described as surreal. Perhaps most memorable was a dance to Carmen in BIG pink and orange ruffles. Carol, thinking back, feels this section of the journal should be subtitled "the horror". But unquestionably the highlight was at the end of the dinner, when Norman announced some birthdays in the group that evening, including Carol!! The PA launched into happy birthday to you, and then didn't stop for about 35 renditions. We had lovely white cakes, and it was all just too wonderful. Carol was overcome with something - emotion or horror, its not clear.